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Tensions Escalate between Israel and Syria

Samara Greenberg

Syria threatened to “send Israel back to the era of prehistoric man” if the Jewish state attacks the country with unconventional weapons, and to “respond in a similar fashion,” Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai reported Saturday. The comment was reportedly in response to an Israeli minister who, speaking off the record, said “We will return Syria back to the Stone Age.” According to the report, the minister warned that Israel will cripple “its power stations, ports, fuel storage and every bit of strategic infrastructure if Hezbollah dare to launch ballistic missiles against us.”

In addition, prior to this warning, Israel delivered a secret message to Syrian President Bashar al-Asad explaining that Israel now regards Hezbollah as a division of the Syrian army and that reprisals against Syria at the event of a Hezbollah attack will be fast and devastating.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also got into the mix, accusing Iran of trying to spark a war between Israel and Syria. “In my estimate, there is Iranian agitation, both direct and indirect, via Hizbullah,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 TV. “With this agitation, Iran is trying to convince Syria that an Israeli attack is imminent. This is a lie,” he added. “Israel wants peace. Israel does not want war.”

And, after all this, the Obama administration continues to defend its decision to engage Syria, beginning with sending an ambassador to Damascus. While there is no telling if the recent war of words will escalate into a war of arms, Syria’s bad behavior should not be rewarded by gifts from the United States.